The vest – like the bowtie and the handkerchief – is the kind of formal wear that it’s hard to fit into everyday life. Worn well, however, a waistcoat or sports vest can add some serious panache to your wardrobe.
All in the fit
A vest helps to define your upper body, regardless of your size or shape. The key to achieving the best effect is to find the perfect fit. The following pointers will help you dress up in style:
A vest should sit snugly around your waist and chest, but never uncomfortably or too tightly.
It should be long enough to cover your belt buckle, preventing the shirt from “popping out” below in an unflattering manner.
This too goes for the back – a small strip of shirt is acceptable, but make sure your shirt is well-cut and tightly tucked in so that it doesn’t “balloon” out in the back.
When worn as part of a three-piece suit, the vest should always be closed.
- When buttoned, the vest should hang smoothly over your chest and stomach. The lower button should be left undone.
- Choose a shirt with a good fit. The vest will define your shoulders, meaning the shirt will “puff” at the shoulders if it is too wide.
In terms of color, a black vest over a white shirt will always look dignified. Combining two muted shades of the same color scheme also works very well. When in doubt, stick with a classic pattern such as herringbone. If you feel adventurous, you can also combine two different patterns - the key every time is a great fit.
From three-piece elegance to sporty casual
Wearing a vest as part of a three-piece suit will never go out of style, but recently it has become more acceptable to use one to complete a sportier look. Keep it simple but don’t be afraid to experiment with layers for the best effect – the look is casual, but never careless. Keep the pointers above in mind, and combine your vest with a button-down shirt and suit pants, or with chinos, a thin wool sweater or perhaps a turtleneck.